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Manning’s 2001 volume, Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions, was selected by W.S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. In the Foreword, Merwin wrote: “The opening lines ... give us an idea of what to expect from this vivid collection. Authority, daring, a language of color and sure movement, first of all, and a high style of great speed and resource that can range, without apparent change of step, from irony and farce to clear lyrical elegy, from refracted projections of child-talk to direct or costumed maturity.”
This “fresh and brilliant talent,” in Merwin’s words, followed Book of Visions in 2004 with A Companion for Owls, written in the voice of frontiersman Daniel Boone and reflecting the material world and the ideas of Boone’s time. The poems, Booklist said, “are exceedingly tangible and exciting, referring constantly to the material world and bodily existence and further grounded by genuine biographical events.” The appended essay on Boone, the reviewer added, “readers ignore at their loss.”
In Bucolics (2007), Manning again writes about nature as he engages a higher power he calls “Boss.” Mark Jarman calls the poems “spellbinding;” Andrew Hudgins lauds this “seamless and utterly contemporary melding of Virgil, Hesiod, the Bible, folk songs, labor songs, and God knows what all else into something new and wonderful.” Other reviewers note the repetitive verbal strategies, but praise its rhythm. A University Book Store reviewer said of the poems, “Sometimes they are funny. Sometimes they are a little sad. Often they have an image that is sublime, and a metaphysical implication that is stunning.”
collector's corner unique, limited-edition & signed works
Broadside created by Paul Hunter/Wood Works Press for the poet’s reading for Counterbalance Poetry on Wednesday, October 10, 2007. Printed from hand-set metal type on archival paper with original woodcut. Limited to 155 copies.
Cascading from one page to another, the seventy poems in this collection read like a love song to creation. Manning extols the virtues of nature and its many gifts, and finds deep gratitude for the mysterious hand that created it all. Unpunctuated and untitled, the work wraps you in its reverie and reminds you of the many wonders all around us. Poetry like this is a celebration of life and language of everything that is.
A Companion for Owls
Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone, Long Hunter, Back Woodsman, &c.
Written in the voice of frontiersman Daniel Boone, A Companion for Owls captures all the beauty and struggle of nascent America. We follow the progression of Daniel Boone’s life, a life led in war and in the wilderness, and see the birthing of a new nation. We meet the Cherokee, the Shawnee, and the Delaware peoples. We track the bountiful animals and the great, undisturbed rivers. We stand aside Boone as he buries his brother, then his wife, and finds comfort in his friendship with a slave named Derry.
Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions
Winner of the 2000 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition is Maurice Manning’s Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions. These poems take us on a wild ride through the life of a man-child who lives among a cast of allegorical and symbolic, yet very real, characters in the rural South. Manning’s poetry has “authority, daring, [and] a language of color and sure movement,” observes series judge W. S. Merwin.
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